Our second year on this mountain I kept a pig and goat. The goat was an unintentional pet. I have never minded butchering animals I have named, but I could not butcher the goat that went on walks (off leash and right in line) with me and my dogs. There I’d be, walking down the dirt road behind the ranch at the end of summer with three dogs and a goat behind me. Funniest thing was, no one noticed. No one ever stopped and said, “Is that a goat?” or something such as that. Nope. People really don’t know how to see clearly when they are so far out of their element, which folks often are up here. The pig, however, did not come for walks. He was for meat. I learned that the same effect altitude has on us (burning calories faster than one can consume, or so it seems), it has on pigs. This pig could not fatten up. He was at best, a lean porker.
All summer we tried to fatten him. We’d have the tourists in the cabins feed their food scraps to him. Thought that was a much better bet than leaving scraps in our trash area… which we were sure would attract a bear.
However, that is exactly what the pig did. Attract a bear. Mind you, it was a little bear and he was really not interested in eating the pig so much as eating the pig’s slop. But our intention here was to fatten a pig, not a bear, so his presence, although cute and hardly menacing, was counterproductive.
And it was no wild bear. It was tagged. The tell tale sign that this guy had already been picked up somewhere else for one can only assume a similar crime. Here in Colorado, bears get a second chance. Probably even a third. It’s part of our tourist revenue. They are cute. The tourists love them. In Colorado, the pioneer, homesteader, or family trying to live off their land and make a simple living hold less value than tourist attractions. Here, I have learned, the bear comes first. I was told (I kid you not) that if such a problem continues, I might have to get rid of my pig. On my ranch. Well, I would have liked to take on that battle, wouldn’t that be fun, and fight it I would have, as you can imagine. But the problem did not continue. The bear was removed, my pig still did not get fat, and we ended the season with very lean pork. And that goat followed me and my dogs on walks all winter. We finally gave him away in the spring to go harass some other unsuspecting family. (And you thought the bear was a problem?)
I still love my bears. Just not tagged ones that are dropped off near my pig pen. I leave you alone; you leave me alone. Which reminds me of another story about another bear… But I’ll save that for another day.